Every relationship has its share of arguments and fights. Conflict is a relationship’s ever-present companion.
But how do you tell if your relationship has too much conflict or too many fights? How do you tell if you’re going through the natural stages of a healthy relationship or are entangled in a bad relationship that needs to end? It’s a challenging distinction to make sometimes.
Everything starts exciting in a new relationship. It’s all fresh and fabulous and you can’t believe your partner’s perfect. But once the initial excitement fades, you start to wonder if this is so great.
After a few messy arguments and one too many slammed doors, you can begin to ask yourself: is my relationship worth saving?
Everyone–friends, mentors, and the internet will be quick to provide you with relationship advice and give you pointers on how to know when you should break up.
But what about when you shouldn’t break up? How do you know when your relationship is worth fighting for? What a pity to throw something so valuable out the window without giving it a fighting chance!
All relationships go through hard times; sometimes, tossing your relationship out altogether can be the best move. But sometimes, facing the restless seas of love headlong rather than retreating to shore can be the best decision you’ll ever make.
Throughout my decade-plus as a men’s relationship coach, I’ve noticed that some of the best relationships result from a couple opting to wade through a rough patch in their relationship together rather than calling it quits.
Here are eleven signs that your relationship is worth saving.
1. You enjoy spending time together
Most of the time, when a relationship starts to go downhill, people dread time together. Time together is associated with stress, endless conflict, and further weakening of the relationship.
So if the two of you enjoy spending time together, there’s a good chance things shouldn’t be over for you guys.
Even when your relationship is rife with conflict, if your partner makes you happy when you are together, you may have a future.
Spending time together is a foundational component of a healthy relationship, so as long as you’re looking forward to this time, things may be better than you think.
2. You can’t bear the thought of leaving her
If you can’t stand the notion of separating from her for good, there may be something worth salvaging.
You do have to consider this one carefully as it is often difficult to judge. Relationships are complex matters of the heart, and things like unhealthy emotional attachment can cloud your vision.
Fear of loneliness or physical separation from something you have grown so accustomed to can make you desperate to avoid a breakup, so it’s tough to tell if you’re afraid of losing someone valuable or just scared of being sad and alone.
Chances are, however, if your stomach churns at the very thought of calling it quits, you have some valid reasons to consider sticking it out.
3. You share the same core values
This point is often overlooked in the hectic dating life of the modern single. Sharing core values is an excellent indicator of a relationship with great potential.
Once the butterflies leave the stomach and the “honeymoon phase” of your relationship comes to its eventual end, shared values are often what determine the success of a relationship.
Similar interests, physical attraction, and shared favorite sports teams can only get you far. The research undeniably points to the fact that similar views on religion, finances, and politics play a huge role in relational compatibility.
Disagreements on such fundamental topics often lead to hurt feelings, loss of respect, and an ultimately toxic relationship or marriage.
If you and your partner share core values, your relationship may have a better than decent foundation.
4. The thought of someone new isn’t appealing
How does it sound to date someone new?
If you are ready to move on, the idea of reentering the dating world should be a bit exciting to you. You should be thrilled at the prospect of finally escaping the chains of your current lover and setting out to find someone worthy.
If this isn’t the case, you’ve got something worth saving.
5. The problems aren’t about the relationship
So many make the costly mistake of confusing life difficulties with relationship difficulties.
Things like new jobs, moving, or deaths in the family can lend a sense of instability to your relationship. If you aren’t careful, you can misinterpret this instability as a weakness in your relationship.
It’s so important to dig up your problems and find the roots. Many things make life harder and make you feel lost, but if you don’t look deep enough, you may think your relationship is making things go wrong.
Sometimes the smartest thing you can do as a couple is waiting for your life to reattain some degree of stability before choosing a path forward. Give it enough time, and relationships often get back on course all on their own.
6. Your fights all revolve around one unresolved issue
What do you guys fight about?
This is a fundamental question to ask yourselves when assessing the quality of your relationship.
If all of your conflicts seem to be centered around one fundamental issue or immaturity in one or both of you, there may be hope. If you can sort out that one issue, you may have a relationship worth holding onto.
So often in my coaching years, I have seen the rockiest, most tumultuous relationships you can imagine calmed by a single, intentional conversation.
- “I don’t like the way you talk to me when you’re angry.”
- “You never admit that you’re wrong and it makes me need to argue.”
- “I wish we had more time set apart each day to spend together.”
- “You’re messy and it bothers me.”
Though these sentences may be laughably simple, I’ve seen them turn relationships around.
A sizeable underlying issue can often serve as the invisible centerpiece of any argument. You argue about who should do the dishes, but little do you know, she doesn’t care who does the dishes, she just hates that you’re gone all the time.
This is almost always the result of poor communication–one side of the relationship not being open to the other about something that’s bothering them. If you approach your issues honestly, respect and talk through accusations, and accept that things can only go uphill when you do things wrong.
7. You trust each other
Trust is exceptionally rare nowadays. Often, sharing mutual trust in a relationship is a great sign that you have something worth saving.
Trust is at the center of all healthy relationships, so if the two of you have much of it, it’s a good sign.
Being able to open yourself entirely and vulnerably to another human is one of the most challenging and dangerous things, and if you have someone you do this with easily, you may well have someone worth keeping.
Take this point with a hefty grain of salt though, because there are more factors to a relationship than just trust. I know a good number of people who I would trust with my life but wouldn’t marry. I know a good number of people who I trust more than anything but don’t have the same values as me.
Relational dynamics is such a multivariable equation. No one thing can guarantee a good relationship.
8. Your conflicts are petty and you make up quickly
Judging your relationship based entirely on how much you argue can be dangerous. Better, is to judge it by what you argue about.
The truth is, some people love conflict–they’ll argue about anything. Put two of them together, and it can look like World War III. If this is you or your partner (or both, god help you), you may be having petty arguments about silly things that don’t ultimately affect your relationship.
Should you mature? Of course. But sometimes, analyzing your conflict in detail can make you realize that you’re closer than you think.
Another good way to figure out if this may be the issue in your relationship is by how quickly the two of you kiss and make up.
If your quarrels seem fleeting and have little effect on your relationship, they’re probably not that big. Couples who make up quickly are usually not arguing about relationship-threatening matters.
9. She still turns you on
Bad relationships lead to bad sex and no physical intimacy. Good relationships, in general, are brimming with sex.
If you and your partner can still turn each other on, there is a good chance your relationship isn’t that bad. Two people who have spent a long time together and are still sexually compatible are rare.
While, as with every one of these eleven points, sexual compatibility will never be the only determiner of your relationship, I have found it startlingly indicative of success throughout my coaching career.
If you’re still turning each other on, your issues may not be that deeply set, and it may be worth working to figure things out.
10. You think you can relight the spark
Many couples notice their relationship begins to slide downhill when life gets boring. The issue is, that they attribute its decline to a lack of compatibility rather than relational burnout caused by a lack of intentionality.
I’ve seen many couples begin to sign divorce papers and pack their bags without fully understanding why their relationship feels empty. They are one spontaneous vacation or romantic boat trip away from reigniting the passion that got them together, but they throw it all away because they don’t stand back and look things over.
Relationships get boring if we let them! People get too used to one another–they start taking things for granted. Sometimes all your relationship needs is a tiny spark to make things exciting again.
Relationships are like fire–they need fuel to burn. If you think there is a chance that the spark that set you guys on fire once upon a time could be relit, there’s a good chance you guys should still be together.
So often, people get stuck in life. They look honestly at themselves and their happiness, see it’s not like it was, ask themselves what happened, and conclude that it must be their relationship. Relationships become easy scapegoats when you don’t know what else to blame.
It may be your relationship. But it may also be that you stopped going at your life with intentionality. You fell into a rhythm, and all you need is a bit of change to spice things up.
11. You both want to work it out
I saved the best for last. This is really what this whole article revolves around.
If both you and your partner have the desire to work things out, you should probably not be breaking up. Investment from both parties shows that both of you value your relationship and view it as valuable enough to be worth saving.
Investment and desire from one party is never enough. Anything that you and your partner want to do must be done together or not at all.
All the other ten points in this article depend on this one. No matter how much you miss them, how similar your core values are, how much you trust them, or how much you enjoy your time together, if they don’t want to work it out, then this relationship isn’t worth it saving.
Anyone worth being with–anyone who values you as much as you do them, who trusts you as much as you do them, who sees a future with you as you do with them–will want to work it out.
There’s no one way to determine if your relationship is worth saving. Still, if multiple or even all of the eleven points above apply to your relationship, you should consider sticking this out.
All relationships go through difficulties, and sometimes these difficulties can make you question the worthwhileness of what the two of you share. Sometimes breaking up is the best solution and you can save yourself years, or even a lifetime of suffering with the wrong person.
But sometimes, relationships are worth saving. Sometimes these conflicts are just bumps on the road to paradise. If we surrender and fall back to safety at a bump, we can miss out on a lifetime of paradise.
Often the difficulty is telling the difference between a bump that can be navigated, and a full-blown wall.
If you can’t bear the thought of leaving her and can see a future with her and no one else, it’s likely this is just a bump in the road.
If you share the same core values and thoroughly enjoy your time together, this is probably just a bump in the road. Most of all, if you both want to work it out, this is likely something you can get through.
Together, always together.
If you still have trouble knowing the right move to make, or are looking to correct a wrong move already made and need mentorship to improve your relationship, we’re here for you. We are a highly-trained group of men who have gone through our own breakups and heartbreaks and have devoted our lives to helping others avoid making the same mistakes we did.
We have helped hundreds of men rediscover their masculinity, grow as individuals, and build lifelong relationships with worthy partners. If your relationship is worth saving, we want to help you save it.